Larry Reid: awaiting a call from God
or campaign donors?

OAKLAND//MAYOR | Councilmember Larry Reid entered the Oakland City Council chambers last Thursday evening to a wave of cheers from supporters on hand early for a truly raucous, yet divisive night. Their exuberance was mixed with calls urging for a run for mayor next year by Reid. As he strode to his council seat, he stopped, grinned widely and tried to wave off his supporter’s plea in the same way a comedian feigns modesty from adoring fans by telling them to halt their applause with one hand while employing the other to continue with their good cheer.

After Thursday’s censure meeting for Councilmember Desley Brooks, Reid acknowledged the support slowly bubbling in recent weeks. If he can raise upwards of $400,000 in campaign donations, Reid said, he will take a swing at unseating former council mate Mayor Jean Quan next year.

“I’m considering it,” said Reid. “I’m giving myself until October to decide whether or not I’m going to run. If I’m going to get into the mayor’s race, I don’t want to get into it half-ass. I just don’t want to jump into the race and I have taken all the means to raise all the money to put a campaign together to communicate my message to the voters up in the hills and precincts you can’t walk. If I can raise $400 grand, I’m in the race.” Last month, during another City Council meeting, Reid famously said his mayoral aspirations were awaiting a sign from God.

Reid says he is currently in talks with political allies and fundraisers to help him amass a suitable campaign war chest. However, it has been quite awhile since Reid has been forced to make requisite phone calls hoping to cajole wealthy donors to part with their money. Reid, for instance, needed just $1,000 in fundraising to defeat a host of no-names for re-election last year.

In addition to Quan, others already declared their candidacy for mayor include university professor Joe Tuman and Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker. Based on demographics alone, the current field, including Reid, if he indeed runs for mayor, strongly favors Quan as the incumbent, but also as the only woman in the race.

Antics by Reid, like those that occurred last Thursday night when he pointedly accused his council colleagues of being racist and hinted at threatening Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby, might make crafting a strategy for winning votes in the more wealthy and white Oakland highlands quite difficult.

“I don’t like to use racism,” said Reid Thursday, “but in this institution that I’m a part of, on this council that I’m a part of, racism is alive and well.” The comments left Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Dan Kalb and several staff members behind them with their mouth agape. Later, Reid hurled aspersions at Ruby, who charged him and Councilmember Desley Brooks of violating the City Charter’s non-interference laws. “I’m not saying what the city auditor said about me is true,” said Reid. “And I’d loved just to have her in front of me.”

When asked afterwards whether the racial tenor of his comments were overheated, Reid exclaimed, “No! Because it’s the truth!”